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Top Tips for Buying Raw Land and Building a Homestead???  RSS feed

 
Posts: 25
Location: Texas
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Hello everyone!!  I am doing some research for a YouTube video I want to make.  We have a growing channel over at YouTube.com/bettertogetherlife.

I am wanting to make a video on the good and bad things I did for purchasing our 7.5acres.  I certainly have my thoughts but I would love to see what you experts have to and wisdom to share. 

Maybe your top 2-3 tips or key things to remember while buying raw land.

Thanks a bunch!!! 
 
pollinator
Posts: 534
Location: Pac Northwest
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top tips,

#1 Water. Some sort of water access. A well, year round stream, pond lake, etc. If there isn't have a big budget for getting a well drilled. Without a solid water plan your not going to last.

#2 Access. Raw land often has poor access. Make sure you have essment rights and the ability to build a road into your place.

#3 Mineral/timber/water/grazing rights. Make sure the rights for these things haven't been sold off for your property. Often times people forget to check this and find out they don't own the timber, or that a fracking operation can come in and set up a well, or that the water is actually owned by a farm down hill.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1132
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I'm by far no expert. And I've made my share of mistakes in the past. And I've learned to avoid a whole lot from other peoples' mistakes. So I can say there are more than 2-3 top tips when it comes to buying raw land.

...is the survey accurate?
...is it zoned for your intended use?
...are there restrictions that would interfere with your intended use?
...is there a clear title?
...will a title company insure it for the full purchase price?
...are there easements on the land?
...are there deed restrictions on the land?
...who owns mineral , water, timber rights?
...is there any future development scheduled that would interfere with your intended use of the land?
...is there future development in the area that you would find objectionable?
...are there neighbors who will fight your intended use of the land?
...is the seller legally bound to a disclosure of conditions that would affect the use of the land?
...are there liens on the land?
...is the land accessible by a normal vehicle year around?
...is the land in a zone subject to possible flooding, landslide, etc?
...is the land downwind from something you'd object to, such as a chemical plant?
...is the water source for the land polluted or otherwise questionable?
...is the land polluted, contain fill, or has been grossly modified in some way in the past (ex. buried foundations?)
...has the land been designated or listed as historic or conservation land?
...will the title transfer negate some grandfathered condition that would effect you?
...are there any active leases attached to the land?

Yes, I've heard disasters related to all the above questions.

 
Posts: 163
Location: Western Washington
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In the same vein as some of the above advice, I recommend that you assess the state, county, and possible municipal governments very carefully. For example, I was recently looking at land in Washington State, and some counties are far more corrupt and restrictive than others. Meanwhile there are some which are far more hands off or even interested in promoting local agriculture. Also, the risk of encountering difficult zoning or policies in the future (or even now) can vary quite widely. Were I to choose a county closer to some of the cities I would run the risk of having to deal with this, even if that county is historically rural. I know that some people move to states like Idaho because they feel that in some places there, but I don't know as much about that.
 
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
tiny house
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I agree with many of the posts here, and would add this:

look into Codes and building requirements by officials.  If you're in a place that has them, you want to know what they are BEFORE you buy.  If there are none, great for you.  


septic survey.  Many areas that DONT have B&S requirements may still have septic requirements.  'f you're in an area that doesn't approve composting toilets, they're going to require a septic system... even if you plan on not using it anyway.

Geological survey.  It might be worth while to get a small tractor, and dig a few small holes to see what exactly you've got.  Is it all clay?  sandy?  Rock?  All of these can have benefits and drawbacks, depending on what you plan to do.  

Fire department access.  This is a big one in some areas.  If the roads leading to your place aren't to the FD's liking, they can deny a permit. 

 
Beau Brotherton
Posts: 25
Location: Texas
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These are all SOOOO GOOD!!

What else?  I think we have covered the top big red flags...what are those other ones that a person should know before purchasing a property?
 
garden master
Posts: 1862
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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If looking for land using realtors, make sure you have your own realtor.  A listing agents only works for his/her customer.  You need to have someone who will represent your interests when entering into a contract and help advice you about financing.  Better yet, have a Real Estate lawyer review the contract.
 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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RE; Realtors. 

I've found that MOST realtors know little to nothing about selling Land, or what's needed to build, etc.  Most realtors have been trained to sell suburban homes, in regular neighborhoods.

YOU need to do ALL your own research, on EVERYTHING. Do NOT rely on a realtor to find out.  Even ones that "specialize" in land, often don't know about codes, how to build, what's allowed, etc.

the more restrictive the government is in the area you plan to buy and build, the more important this becomes.  You need to figure out exactly what you want/plan to do, and make sure that it doesn't violate codes, etc.  

And the old adage:  "you can't go wrong with land as an investment, cause they're not building any more of it" is flat out stupid and WRONG. 

I see people buy land ALL THE TIME that is completely WORTHLESS and unbuildable for one reason or another.  There are MANY reasons why it would be cost restrictive, if not impossible, to build.  Far too many to list.  Some reasons are "code based"  (Ie, the code won't allow you to build, say, too close to a creek.  Others are unbuildable due to topography, soil and geological issues, proximity to toxins, etc. 

In LA county, there are literally tens of thousands of unbuildable lots, many of which "pop up" for sale all the time.  This is one of THE most restrictive building codes in the WORLD, and often, those codes made it impossible to build.  People buy lots thinking, "it's Southern California!  Land there is a premium", then they find out why the land was cheap... or in some cases, not so cheap.  I've seen people blow their life savings on a lot, only to find out later they cant get water, or the setback requirements leave no land to build on, or the geology isn't stable, or the neighbors septic systems are too close to their property, so they can't build, or the oak trees (which are protected) cover the property, or 1000 other things. 

Bottom line is YOU and YOU ALONE are responsible for finding out what you can do. 

DO YOUR HOMEWORK. 
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
Posts: 534
Location: Pac Northwest
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While this seems like common sense and well known, when wrapped up in buying land and building a homestead you often loose sight of this very common thing.

Expect everything to take longer and cost more than planned and budgeted. So plan wisely. Expect time and cost over runs.
 
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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position position position
what a normal Real estate person would say.
Do you need a car? HOw long to the next market (to sell) to your clients to the hospital.....
 
Posts: 1442
Location: Fennville MI
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Among other things, use the internet tools that show you where the wetlands are and what soils are on the land. Check the EPA superfund listing site - no joke, one property I was seriously interested in turned out to be a toxic special, with a past owner doing jail time for pollution violations.

Su Ba's list was extensive, but still not complete

What you want to do with your homestead is important in evaluating aspects of the land. If you're planning on market gardening, you had better be within reach of markets. If you want to grow livestock, you need to be sure it's allowed, but you also might want to know about the processing laws in the state, whether you can process on the farm, if there is even a processor in your state (there may not be).

All season access?  Weather? Flood plains. In some areas, dams are a serious question - are you downstream in harm's way if something goes wrong? Nuclear power plants? Paper mills? What are other farms in the area doing and are their practices a risk for your plans?

A couple of examples of some other things to think about; in the area where we bought our land, there is an "art trail" co-op, where local artists, farmers and restaurants have joined together to create a trail for the tourist crowd to follow along.  As my wife and I both produce some crafts, this has potential value to us.  The town has an annual "Goose Festival" that looks to be fun, quaint, and, again, potentially of monetary value.

You could categorize the issues in choosing real estate in many ways, but one might be:
Legal - codes, rights, easements, access, title, zoning etc.
Geological - soil types, wet lands, seismic stability, flood plains, etc.
Man made problems - contamination, pollution, dams, crime, CAFOs
Regulatory - processing, selling, production, etc.
Cultural - will you fit in?  does the area have elements you need? Music? Libraries? Events? Seasonal tourism? etc.
Infrastructure - roads, bridges, hospitals, fire departments, police, schools, etc.
Resources - everything from manure and wood chips to mentors and labor pools
Meteorological - climate, precipitation, storms.  Does the area get tornadoes? Hurricanes? Flash floods? Blizzards?

 
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